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Mostly Main: Celebrating birthdays and anniversaries are just a bit different during a pandemic

Garden gnome Ed Lilley helps Paula Bahler Huber celebrate her birthday.
Garden gnome Ed Lilley helps Paula Bahler Huber celebrate her birthday. (Courtesy photo/Victoria Goeller / HANDOUT)

Happy birthday to Ellicott City real estate agent Paula Bahler Huber. She celebrated in style on her front lawn and enjoyed a special visit — at a careful distance — from garden gnome Ed Lilley.

Also, happy birthday to Victoria Goeller, who celebrated on June 1, and happy seventh anniversary on that day to my son Dave and his lovely wife Kristen. Lynn Weller will be blowing out candles on June 6 and his wife Nellie will do the same on June 13.

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Congratulations to Leeza Ennis on celebrating her Envy Salon’s 21st anniversary on Columbia Pike. I remember interviewing Leeza when she was just opening the shop and how committed she was to doing the best for her customers as well as working to maintain the historic integrity of the lovely building her shop inhabited. Her high standards have served her and the community well all these years. It is a unique and charming place.

Congratulations also to Dennis and Kathy Sloan-Beard on their 21st anniversary. They got married the day after the grand reopening of the B&O Railroad Museum, Ellicott City Station, on May 20, 1999. Historic Ellicott City Inc. threw a big party to celebrate the major restoration of the Railroad Museum, which included making the entire building handicapped accessible for the first time. I was volunteering with HEC at the time, and Kathy was working for the county’s Public Information Office. I remember wondering what we could do next, after an amazing event like that, and Kathy replied that, well, she was getting married the next day. Yep, that would top it.

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Charles Wagandt II died May 21. As my friend Victoria Goeller put it, “How many people can say ‘I knew a man who saved a town.’ ”

Wagandt was a friend of mine, and the town he saved, quite literally, was Oella. Wagandt was the great-grandson of William Dickey, who bought Oella at auction in 1887. Wagandt bought the village, without the mill, in 1973 in the aftermath of the damage wrought by Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972, and created the Oella Company.

In 1976, the small town was named to the National Register of Historic Places, even while Wagandt campaigned to get water and sewer extended to the area. He is noted for his vision of historic preservation while promoting a social program to keep long-term renters in their improved housing at reasonable rents.

Wagandt was recognized by the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Committee as well as the Howard County Historic District Commission. He was instrumental in saving the George Ellicott House, moving it from the Wilkens-Rogers Mill to higher ground across the street in Oella. He was a founding member of the board of the Benjamin Banneker Museum. I volunteered with him for many years on the Ellicott City Restoration Foundation, where he was a tireless champion of our historic town. He was a historian and published author. Howard County Historical Society Executive Director Shawn Gladden said he spent many hours in his office or Wagandt’s, discussing local history.

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On one of my visits to Wagandt’s office, which was in a tiny repurposed church in the heart of Oella, Wagandt showed me his archives. I was working on a book of oral histories at the time and was thinking of my next writing project. I have always been glad that Wagandt did not encourage me to take on those archives. Twenty years later, I’d still be sorting through them!

In another loss to our community, Shirley Meighan died on April 28. Meighan was an educator who finished her career as principal of Northfield Elementary School. While there, she was named the best elementary school principal in the state and also was honored twice at the White House.

My son, Dave, attended Northfield during her tenure and still has memories of her fondness for “machine spelling.” I’m still not sure what that is.

By the way, Dave’s son Henry, 3, has been gifted with a cowbell by a friend in their Brooklyn neighborhood. He uses it during their nightly ritual, a 7 p.m. shout-out to thank all of the care workers who continue to put their lives on the line every day.

Do you remember Christopher Walken calling for more cowbell in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch a few years ago? He’d be pleased.

Having learned my lesson about starting up my car to avoid a dead battery — again — I drove to the Miller Branch library on Memorial Day weekend. I miss the library, and apparently I’m not the only one. I stayed in my car but I saw a couple looking through the locked gate of the Enchanted Garden. I saw a woman leaning against a post near the main entrance, looking like she was simply waiting for the doors to open. I saw three cars with teens in them, parked a safe distance apart, in the back of the parking lot, carefully socializing.

Speaking of libraries, I have seen a few of those roadside tiny libraries popping up. I saw one in front of Northfield Elementary School and another in Lot D behind Tersiguel’s. I think it is a great idea, especially as I have finished all of my library books and most of my husband Tom’s.

I am happy to report that Sea King Carryout is steaming crabs. I have enjoyed crab night at the restaurant and look forward to eating there again. For now, I’m just hoping for a sunny day to come along so we can feast on our patio.

Despite the gloomy weather we’re having at this writing, our garden is outdoing itself. We have brought in fragrant lilacs and huge rhododendron blossoms and the azaleas are not far behind. We are keeping a close eye on the peonies so we can enjoy them before the deer get to them. The deer are also enjoying our parsley, while the squirrels keep trying to conquer the bay leaf bush — and failing, fortunately.

And, if you are like me and consider summer the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you will be happy to hear that this summer is the longest it could possibly be, with Memorial Day the earliest possible on May 25 and Labor Day the latest, on Sept. 7. Enjoy!

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